CSOs see anomalies in proposed ordinance on right to information

A network of 20 civil society organisations (CSOs), Coalition on Right to Information (CRTI), Wednesday claimed the proposed ordinance of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Right to Information had a number of anomalies and it would create problems instead of facilitating the public to have access to information.

Talking to reporters at the Peshawar Press Club, representatives of one of the organisations, Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), described the proposed law as extremely weak.

CRTI Coordinator Zahid Abdullah said that despite making tall claims about good governance and transparency, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government introduced an ineffective draft of Right to Information Ordinance 2013.

“The government should introduce the law in the provincial assembly and enact it as an act of the provincial assembly after consultation with all stakeholders,” he said.

He said that it was unfortunate that instead of making legislation through the provincial assembly, the PTI wanted to promulgate an ordinance. “If it is promulgated in its present shape it will end up curtailing rather than protecting and promoting citizens’ right to information,” he feared.

Zahid Abdullah added the draft law envisaged the establishment of a single-member information commission like ombudsman, which he said, was a failed model. He urged the provincial government to come up with right to information law in line with international standards and regional practices.

The NGO official offered to support the provincial government in drafting the law on right to information. “An effective law on right to information needs an effective and autonomous information commission as was the practice in the region in the case of Bangladesh and India,” he suggested.